Advice on A level Paper 2 Question 2 (30 marks)

Advice on A level Paper 2 Q2 30 Marks

Question 2 on A-Level Paper 2 gives you a choice of two essay-style questions. Each of these is worth 30 marks and should be completed in 45 minutes.

Evaluate the extent to which the balance of power has shifted from the executive to Parliament in recent years. [30 marks]

In your answer you should draw on relevant knowledge and understanding of the study of Component 1: UK Politics and Core Political Ideas and consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way.

This kind of question tests all three Assessment Objectives, with the marks divided equally. Your knowledge and understanding should underpin your analysis and evaluation. As with Question 2 on Paper 1, you must evaluate — in this case, develop arguments that both agree and disagree with the suggestion that Parliament has increased its power at the expense of the executive. However, you must also draw on relevant information from Component 1. This is a 'synoptic' question — it requires you to draw on knowledge and understanding acquired in other parts of the specification. If you do not make any synoptic points, you cannot achieve the highest level (between 25 and

30 marks).

· Write a brief plan before you start writing, to help you produce a logically structured answer.

· The introduction needs to explain briefly what is meant by the 'balance of power' between the executive and Parliament. The UK's uncodified constitution provides few clear-cut checks and balances. However, this situation is constantly changing. In the essay you are going to explain and evaluate changes that may have altered the balance between the two.

· What is meant by 'recent years'? This is obviously open to debate but as a general rule you should focus on developments since 1997 (and in particular since 2010).

· Aim to cover two to three changes that have arguably increased the power of Parliament, and the same number of areas where the executive retains important powers.

· Make connections between your points — a particular development can increase the power of Parliament, but can also have limitations. Finally, reach a clear and supported overall judgement.

Here is a paragraph from a student's answer.

Recent governments have accepted an increased role for Parliament in the exercise of prerogative powers. For example, David Cameron consulted the Commons on his proposals to use military force in Syria in August 2013, and publicly accepted the will of Parliament when he lost. This shows that government does not always have full control, and Parliament now exercises greater oversight of its policies and actions. On the other hand it is still comparatively rare for a majority government to lose a vote in the Commons. Cameron suffered only six defeats in the five years of coalition government, and three more in his 14 months as head of a Conservative government with a small majority. The continuing influence of the whips over how Mrs vote, and the prime minister's power of patronage, are important tools reinforcing the authority of the government. In addition the First Past the Post voting system usually enhances the lead of the winning party over its opponents in the Commons. For example, Blair was not defeated until November 2005 (on proposals to increase the time that terror suspects could be held before being charged), which was more than eight years into his term of office.

· This is effective because it uses precise and accurate examples to support the points that it makes. It covers both sides of the argument.

· It also meets the requirement to include synoptic material. The reference to the use of the First Past the Post voting system draws on UK Politics: Electoral Systems chapter, Sections 3.1 and 3.3.